Choosing hospice care is a very personal decision that involves the patient, the patient’s family and specialized professionals who can provide informed counseling and guidance. Most patients rely on the Medicare hospice benefit to pay for care. For that reason, Medicare eligibility guidelines are often followed to determine if hospice care is an appropriate choice for a patient and his or her family. To qualify for the Medicare hospice benefit, two criteria must be met:

  1. The patient’s condition has been diagnosed as incurable; and
  2. life expectancy is approximately six months or less if the illness runs its normal course.

The Medicare hospice care benefit does not “cut off” at the end of the initial six-month period. Benefits continue as long as the hospice physician continues to certify a six-month life expectancy and the patient wishes to remain with hospice care.

If a patient’s terminal condition improves, he or she can be discharged from hospice and return to curative treatment, or resume daily life without any medical intervention. If need be, patients can later return to hospice care.

Hospice care can also be paid for privately or through insurance plans.

Although hospice care assumes that comfort rather than curative care is desired, hospice care focuses on quality of life and can bring meaning and fulfillment during the final stage of life, as well as comfort. For this reason, it is helpful to start hospice early in the progression of a terminal illness. Hospice care is a good treatment for a number of conditions. The Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Team is particularly equipped to serve older adult patients who may be experiencing illnesses such as:

  • Heart and lung diseases
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Dementia
  • Neurological diseases
  • Cancer
  • AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
  • Kidney and Liver disease
  • Parkinson's disease